Family of exonerated man killed during traffic stop sues Georgia deputy, sheriff's office

The family of an exonerated Black man killed near the Georgia-Florida border say they are suing the deputy who fatally shot him during a roadside struggle.

On Tuesday, the family of 53-year-old Leonard Cure said they are filing a $16 million lawsuit against Staff Sergeant Buck Aldridge and the Camden County Sheriff's Office.

In the lawsuit, the family has brought federal constitutional claims against both Aldridge and Sheriff Jm Proctor as well as state law claims for wrongful death, assault and battery against the deputy.

Attorneys claim that the sheriff's office has a "long history of brutality and violence" and that Cure's death was just one of the more recent examples of the department failing to discipline officers who "have a propensity of violence and unlawful use of force."

Leonard Cure killed during Georgia traffic stop

On Oct. 16, Leonard Cure was pulled over by Buck Aldridge as he drove along Interstate 95 near the Georgia-Florida line.

Aldridge ended up shocking the 53-year-old man with a Taser after he refused to put his hands behind him to be cuffed. Body and dash camera videos show Cure fought back and had a hand at the deputy’s throat when Aldridge shot him point-blank.

"Put your hands behind your back, or you are getting tased," Aldridge can be heard yelling on dash cam footage released by the Camden County Sheriff's Office.

"Why am I getting Tased?" Cure could be heard asking.

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The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released the deputy dash cam video showing the interaction between Leonard Allan Cure and the deputy who ultimately killed him. (Credit: Georgia Bureau of Investigation)

The deputy told him he was under arrest for speeding and reckless driving at 100 mph. The video appears to show Cure freeze before turning around and wrestling with the deputy. The official used a stun gun and baton before ultimately shooting Cure.

Sheriff Jim Proctor and District Attorney Keith Higgins of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit decided along with the GBI to release the video to show how the "incident escalated to the point of extreme Use of Force."

Relatives have said Cure likely resisted because of psychological trauma from spending 16 years imprisoned in Florida for an armed robbery he didn’t commit. Officials exonerated and freed him in 2020.

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Leonard Allan Cure

From: Supplied

Accusations against  Staff Sergeant Buck Aldridge

Attorneys say Aldridge had a history of using aggressive force while on duty. Personnel records show Aldridge was fired in August 2017 by a police department in the same Georgia county after he threw a woman to the ground and handcuffed her during a traffic stop. The Camden County Sheriff’s Office hired him nine months later.

Last year, Aldridge dragged a driver from a car that crashed after fleeing the deputy on Interstate 95. Body and dash camera video obtained by The Associated Press shows the driver on his back as Aldridge punches him. Records indicate the deputy faced no disciplinary action.

The family's attorneys say they learned about another incident from 2022 where Aldridge hit a 17-year-old in the face and shot him with a Taser while the teen was reportedly lying on his back.   

"On the one hand, this case is about Leonard Cure, a man who was wrongfully imprisoned and ultimately killed by law enforcement sworn to serve and protect him. But, on the other hand, it’s about much more than that," Attorney Harry Daniels said in a statement. "This isn’t some isolated incident. We’re talking about an officer with a long history of brutality and violence within a department with a long history of brutality and violence. They have blood on their hands and it’s time to hold them accountable."

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating Cure’s death and will submit its findings to prosecutors. Aldridge’s attorney said the video shows he fired in self-defense. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.